Millie's House, a popular Montville Township daycare, received a $15,000 Morris County Small Business Grant Program check today via personal delivery by Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo and U.S Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
"This is such a huge deal for us. For a small business, $15,000 can be the difference between making payroll or not and keeping our doors open," said Millie Enriquez, owner and operator of the center.
"We struggled through the pandemic. It has been very challenging because we were just hitting a five-year mark in our location when it hit, and a lot of sacrifices had to be made. I am just so happy, so grateful."
Joining the visit yesterday were Montville Committee Member June Witty, Township Administrator June Hercek, Township Clerk Stacy Sullivan-Gruca and Don Dedio, an administrative assistant in the township.
Millie and her husband, Hector, encouraged other businesses to apply for the grant program, which will stop accepting applications on September 30.
"I'm surprised there is still money left and that other businesses have not applied. I understand it, "Millie said.
"They may not want to go through the application process, but – hey – it is $15,000. To a small business owner, it may as well be $1 million. I'm just so happy, really, and very grateful."
The Morris County Commissioners launched the program on Valentine's Day with a kick-off in Dover, where the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, the Morris County Economic Development Corp., U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill and many other state and local officials joined with small business owners to promote the grants.
The Commissioners dedicated $10 million and designed the grants to assist small businesses and nonprofits with pandemic-related expenses incurred after March 3, 2021, including rent and mortgage payments.
"So far, about 650 small businesses have been approved for grants. We have $1.1 million left, but this program will end September 30, so people need to apply," Commissioner Mastrangelo said.
"As a small business owner myself, I think the program has been important, and I think it has been a great success, from both the government's standpoint and the businesses' standpoint. We've seen many start-up companies and businesses come into Morris County, and we want to keep them here."
U.S. Rep Sherrill joined in the visit to Millie's House.
"We know it is people on the ground like our commissioners who understand best on how to get the money out. So this is just a wonderful example of how broad federal programs combined with people on the ground who understand the direct needs of the district can be so powerful," she said.
The Morris County Small Business Grant Program has been a unique use of federal funds issued to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was designed to offer pandemic-related aid.
A provision in the act introduced by U.S. Rep Sherrill ensured it included direct aid to New Jersey's counties and municipalities after Morris County and 11 other New Jersey counties failed to receive any portion of $1.1 billion in federal CARES Act funds issued to New Jersey in 2020.